Written by: BTSADV Survivor
“I was your puppet, and you held the strings until I realized I had my own wings….”
I look back and see all the small warning signs before the big problems started happening. I shrugged off little red flags even on our first date. He was smart, cunning, very handsome, college educated, served in the military and was very confident. He was also immediately crazy about me. In our first week, he threw himself into a jealous rage storming out of my house when a male friend showed up. He just really likes me. I chased after him, and in that one moment, I sealed my fate for the next 16 months.
I remember having no fear. It’s been that way my entire life. I wasn’t scared when he asked me to move in one month into dating. He rationalized it as us saving money since it would happen anyways. I made $72,000 a year, and he made $50,000. I worked all the time, and he loved how dedicated I was to my job.
Two weeks before we were set to move in, he put me on his motorcycle and crashed. His blood alcohol level was .308, and we were doing almost 70 mph. I should have died. He cried, and my parents forgave him. I realized we would be spending the next two weeks in an ICU burn unit sharing a room, so I forgave him.
I was much worse than him: broken neck, broken left leg, broken right foot, broken right hand, and arm. Plus there were burns covering over 30% of my body. But he was sorry. I remember needing nursing care and my family wanting to stay with us to help when we got home, but he refused. He said we had to learn how to do this on our own.
Slowly he started cutting my family out more and more. Two months after the accident was the first time he hurt me. I remember him being upset that I was still making more money than him on disability and how I was lazy and didn’t work. He had been drinking. He took my phone and threw it over a fence (one of the many phones I lost). He then chased me from our room slamming a door on my head. The egg was the size of a baseball.
He called the police because he said I was harassing him. Quickly the charming man I fell in love with used his charm again. The police felt my head and told him he was lucky that I was so nice and didn’t want to press charges.
The next day – without apologizing – life was back to normal. He just had a bad reaction to wine and pain medication. By this point I was confused. He promised me we would never fight like that again. Less than a month later, he picked up a ceramic cookie jar I made his mother and smashed it over my arm. I knew it was broken and I screamed. Less than five minutes later police were at the door. They could tell I had been crying, but they never separated us to find out if I was ok.
The next day I got a cast on my right arm. I told the ER I fell tripping on cobblestone. He saw my arm in the cast and said he promised this wouldn’t happen again. At this point, I was already gone.
He asked me not to abandon him; he needed me. I was the only one who could help him, but no one was helping me. Thanksgiving – fight. Christmas – Fight. Every holiday – fight. He began kicking me out of our room. I worked, came home, and went to my room. I did a lot of crying. He would then say I was allowed back in our room.
In the spring, he was drunk and wanted my phone. I hid it because he had already broken a laptop and three phones. I went to stand up, all 5’2 of me (and he towers me at 6’2). He pushed me and pushed me, and then just like that picked up a wooden bench and threw it at me, hitting me in the temple.
I began screaming and trying to crawl away. He picked me up by my shirt, ripping it, and then hit me right in the mouth and nose. I crawled to the bathroom and found my phone under the sink; I called 911. The officers came in, and he had written on every wall of our living room all the reasons I should love him and be grateful for him – in sharpie.
The police officers told me that the next step is death. Six hours later, when my number was supposed to be blocked, I got a call from him at the jail, begging me to drop charges, promising therapy, and saying he would lose everything. I picked him up from the jail while the injunction is in place and went home with him. Nothing changed.
During this time, I find out I was girl number 7, the 7th girl to call him dangerous. He sent my family naked photos of me and threatened to put them on the internet. We moved cities, and he changed for one month. He got upset and stressed, and I got a crockpot of boiling beef stew thrown on my face. We changed cities again, and again, he changed for one month.
In our final three months together, the police came to the house three times. I visited the hospital four times. The time was with a broken patella and tibia (door slammed on my leg- told them I fell down an attic ladder). On the second visit, it was an L3,L4,L5 transverse process fracture from being body slammed (told them I slipped in the shower). After that, I had an injury from my head being put through a wooden door (told them the dog pulled me and I slipped). The last time, I had a ruptured eardrum and the start of cauliflower ear (blamed on a bad ear infection and freak accident).
I had more nights of blood flowing from my mouth and nose than I could count. More bruises on my face, busted lips, and strangle marks on my neck. In the last week I was with him, this man sexually assaulted me while I was asleep and picked me up and slammed me into a glass door. I wanted to die. I couldn’t get away from him, so death was a better choice. I had no ability to contact anyone.
Finally, the last day I was there when he went to work. I went and knocked on a neighbor’s door. I explained everything and asked to call my parents. That neighbor had been the one who called the cops every time and was always so surprised he wasn’t arrested – me too. This kind neighbor got me a cell phone and paid for an airplane ticket, and I left. I flew 2000 miles away.
The hardest part was how much I missed him, and that made me realize how messed up I was. One year of counseling, two different women’s abuse counseling groups, and seven previous survivors from this man telling me I was the strongest of us all. We formed a support group. One tattoo to show I am a domestic abuse survivor but I am not a puppet and I have my own wings!
A year later I get a random phone call, and it’s him. The only thing he could say was that I was incorrigible, but he missed me. Since that conversation, there have been two domestic violence arrests by two women, and both were dropped. Two women whom I have talked through getting away and starting over. To this day, he is still a high-power executive. People I tell my story to – when I show them his picture – immediately comment on how handsome he is.
The guilt I felt for him not being in prison for what he did followed me for two years, but if nothing else, the pain I went through is helping other women understand that it does get worse. Those red flags are red for a reason. Finally, it does get better, and you deserve better.
**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.
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